Tag Archives: community colleges

Dispatches from the CCID Conference 2014 in Las Vegas, NV

February 27th, 2014

vegas

This year’s CCID (Community Colleges for International Development) annual conference was at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, NV. Settled at the outskirts of the city; a half hour away from the hubbub of the Strip, the conference site proved to be a serene environment conducive for meetings and networking. A large percentage of ACEI’s institutional clients are U.S. community colleges which refer their international students as well as newly-arrived immigrants to the U.S. for help with the evaluation of their transcripts, certificates and degrees for U.S. academic equivalence. It is only appropriate that we attended this year’s CCID annual Conference.

CCID is a non-profit international membership organization and “for nearly 40 years, CCID has provided an international network for community colleges to further their internationalization initiatives and to enhance the development of a globally competent workforce for the communities they serve.”

Community Colleges are an American invention intended to make publicly funded higher education available and accessible to everyone. They are seen as a gateway to higher education in the U.S. because of their lower costs, excellent opportunities to transfer to universities, variety of courses offered and many other benefits as noted in one of our previous blogs. There are 1,655 community colleges across the US. The States with the largest number of public community colleges are California, Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, and New York. (Source: US Department of Education).

Last year, I attended the CCID Conference in Atlanta, GA and co-presented a workshop on how to “ Optimize your recruitment strategy by elevating the global branding of your colleges through 2+2 university pathways and partnerships.” This year, ACEI, represented by myself and our Assistant Director, Yolinisse Moreno, exhibited at the conference for the first time. ACEI also co-hosted the post-banquet dinner dance party with ITEP (International Test for English Proficiency) which proved to be a great hit amongst the attendees. After a long day of attending workshops, presentations and meetings, the dance party was a great way for everyone to loosen up and have fun.

jasmin_ccid
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, ACEI & Terri Burchell, CCID

At our exhibit booth, we had the opportunity to meet several representatives from the community colleges and discovered while some had no international students a few were exploring the opportunities available to them to increase their international student population and looking at the 2+2 or 1+1 models, a topic worth revisiting in one of our previous blogs written by Zepur Solakian, the Executive Director of CGACC (Center for Global Advancement of Community Colleges). In response to our question concerning international credential evaluation, it was interesting to hear many say that they did not have any international students so they didn’t have any need for credential evaluations. Yet, when we reminded them that international credential evaluation also applies to those individuals who are already here in the U.S. as immigrants/residents and have academic documents from their source countries, they were able to realize the significance of our service regardless of the student’s status: international vs. domestic. The simple fact is that credential evaluation applies to anyone who has studied outside the U.S. and needs a statement of U.S. academic equivalence in order to seek admission to a school, college or university, or qualify for a job or a professional license in this country.

Both Yolinisse and I were so busy meeting conference attendees at the ACEI booth that neither one of us had the opportunity to attend any of the several sessions on the program with such topics on how to leverage university transfer in community college recruitment abroad to developing associate degree programs in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, we had a very fruitful two days at the conference and were able to connect with many new and old contacts.

Our thanks to the CCID leadership, Carol Stax Brown, President and Terri Burchell, Director of Advancement for inviting ACEI to the conference. We look forward to attending next year’s conference in Newport Beach, CA.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI
www.acei1.com

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For-Profit Colleges, MOOCs, and the Future of Higher Education

December 19th, 2013

Salford Business School launches unique open access online course

Earlier this week I read a piece on the Huffington Post about some for-profit colleges making false promises of guaranteeing employment on graduation to lure students. In fact, these colleges created fake jobs to attract the students. How did they pull it off? By paying employers $2000 to hire their students for a month or two and then laying them off. Now why would these colleges do this, you may ask? The answer is that a solid job placement rates allow the for-profit colleges and their parent companies, to satisfy the accrediting bodies that oversee their numerous campuses spread across the U.S., while enabling them to “tap federal student aid coffers — a source of funding that has reached nearly $10 billion over the last decade.” Are you as outraged as I am about this fakery? Best that you read the post for all the gory details; I frankly don’t have the stomach.

Why are people willing to pay top dollar (one student paid $17,000 for a nine-month certificate program in air-conditioning and refrigeration) and fall into long-term debt when they can easily take the same courses at a fraction of the cost at a local community college? Perhaps the community colleges need to advertise and market themselves more, but I guess they need resources to do that which may not be so easy when competing with the for-profits.

I heard a report on KCRW’s To the Point on MOOCs, those Massive Open On-Line Courses which were all the rage a year or so ago, so much so that many were predicting the demise of the traditional brick and mortar institutions of higher learning. Two years ago, Stanford University attracted 160,000 students to take a MOOC. There was a lot of giddy chatter on how MOOCs will shake up the status quo with its promise of making higher education available to millions who otherwise can’t afford it. College professors began to fear losing their jobs. Panic had set in. Yet, despite big investment from Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Silicon Valley, MOOC’s have not lived up to the hype and haven’t revolutionized higher education. It appears that many of those who enroll in a MOOC do not complete the course which means the completion rate of MOOCs is not too promising. But, with millions invested, online education isn’t going away, though as a mass movement it’s not going to replace traditional routes to higher education any time soon.

In her post on October 9, 2013 in CampusTechnology, an online blog, Dian Schaffhauser reports: “A coalition of faculty groups has declared war against online learning, particularly massive open online courses (MOOCs), because it said it believes that the fast expansion of this form of education is being promulgated by corporations — specifically for-profit colleges and universities and education technology companies — at the expense of student education and public interest.” Interesting how the same for-profit colleges are the ones who are also moving in and incorporating the MOOCs into their program structure. Up until now, MOOCs have been cost free to those who enroll in an on-line course, but once these MOOCs are picked up by for-profit colleges, there goes the no-cost benefit to the learner.

If there is a point to my rant, it’s that these extreme attempts made to “revolutionize” higher education, whether through offering accelerated training programs with promises of guaranteed employment at their completion or access to on-line education to anyone and anywhere, are just that: extreme and profit-driven. I’m all for accessible and affordable higher education, not accessible with a high price tag and false promises.

Oh, and Happy Holidays and catch you next year!


The Frustrated Evaluator
www.acei1.com

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5 Things to Know about U.S. Community Colleges

September 13, 2012

City College of San Francisco 07

Many individuals and groups overseas seem to have a distorted view of U.S. community colleges thinking that their academic programs are inferior to those offered by four-year colleges and universities. In fact, even our visa officers at U.S. embassies seem to have a skewed opinion of community colleges when it comes to approving visas to international students holding acceptance letters from U.S. community colleges. It’s time that we explore the nature of community colleges and the benefits of obtaining a community college education.

Here are 5 things to know about a community college:

1. Academic Institution – A community college is an academic institution committed to higher learning just as a traditional four-year college or university. In the United States, community colleges (also called junior colleges, technical colleges or city colleges) are mainly two-year public institutions granting certificates, diplomas and Associate’s degrees. They also offer continuing and adult education programs.

2. Affordability – Community colleges are an affordable way to get access to university-level studies. The cost per credit hour for courses offered at community colleges is less than traditional universities. Many students planning on earning a Bachelor’s degree can benefit from the lower fees by opting to complete the general education requirements of the four-year bachelor’s by attending a community college first before transferring to a university.

3. Range of Courses and Programs – Community colleges provide a wide range of educational opportunities as well as courses related to trade and industry. The variety of courses offered makes pursuing studies at a community college attractive to students wanting to break into a career path which requires skills unique to a trade or job. But community colleges also offer courses satisfying the general education content of bachelor’s degrees so that domestic and international students can fulfill this component before continuing their studies at a four-year institution.

4. Transferability of Courses to U.S. four-year institutions – Community colleges provide academic courses specifically designed to meet the requirements for transfer to a four-year college/university should the student decide to use the credits earned toward a bachelor’s degree.

5. Flexibility – Community colleges are ideal for those attending to family needs or the working student who can’t afford to devote the time and energy needed to a four-year college and university program. Community colleges provide the working students and new parents with the opportunity of acquiring an education at a pace that makes sense and conforms to their busy schedule.

Whether you’re a local resident or an international student, set on acquiring and upgrading a skill/trade or earning credits to transfer to a four-year institution, the range and scope of programs offered make the community college a cost-effective transitional pathway to further education and independent living.

Useful links: Center for Global Advancement of Community Colleges http://cgacc.org/

Alan A. Saidi
Sr. Vice-President & COO, ACEI, Inc

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Embracing International Students: Lowering Standards for the Almighty $$$

May 3, 2012

Dollar Sign in Space - Illustration

As we seek ways to attract international students to our college campuses, lowering our standards and accepting candidates solely to boost revenue and clout doesn’t seem to be a smart way of going about it. But, it is exactly what’s happening. As states cut back on subsidies, slashing budgets and tightening belts, our colleges and universities are feeling the strain and altering their screening of foreign applicants.

In a way, being admitted on the basis of having famous parents may not necessarily get one into a university, but having influential relatives as likely donors will give the student a leg up. At least, that’s what Douglas Christiansen, the dean of admissions at Vanderbilt University is quoted as saying in an April 17, 2012 piece “Colleges angle for influential foreign students like Bo Guagua” on Reuters. Where a family’s clout overseas was once not a factor in the screening of applications of international students, more and more U.S. institutions are feeling the pinch and slowly abandoning their purist admissions practices and considering to “think about screening foreign applicants for their capacity to help boost revenue and prestige,” is how Phillip Ballinger, Admissions Director at the University of Washington in Seattle puts it in the same article.

You may have heard of Bo Guagua, and his “party-boy” persona, and even following the recent headlines surrounding his parents who are accused of political corruption and even murder of an English businessman in China. (Children of China’s political elite are commonly referred to as “princelings,” a strange moniker for a country that did away with emperors and all things princely.) Despite what news articles have uncovered about this young man’s spotty and subpar academic record beginning with his secondary education at Harrow (a prestigious boarding school for boys in England which appears to have admitted him on the basis of a strong recommendation from the very English businessman, now deceased), to his stint at Oxford University, where he was suspended for a year for “poor academic performance,” the 24-year old Bo Guagua was admitted to Harvard University’s Kennedy School to pursue a Master’s. And, he was on a scholarship!

What happened to academic performance? Parents are breaking their backs to put their students in college-preparatory programs and paying for private tutors so their children will score high on SAT’s and get into top notch universities. They apply for student loans and take second mortgages on their home to be able to pay for their child’s college tuition. And while soon-to-be high school graduates double up and pack their schedules with extra-curricular activities to strengthen their college applications, there are those, like the young Bo Guagua, who simply jump to the front of the line because of family ties and financial resources.

There’s something wrong with this picture and as one who has been involved in international education for nearly 30 years, I know the answer lies in the proper vetting of the international student with a thorough and detailed verification and evaluation of his/her academic documents. This may sound like a self-serving statement, but it is true. As public universities here in the US are feeling the pinch and pressured to loosen their reins on screening foreign applications, more and more are looking at ways to exercise more flexibility and at times turn a blind eye on the importance of credential evaluation. Sadly, one of the first departments that appear on an institution’s chopping block at times of financial hardship tends to be the international student office. Yet, the institutions set out to aggressively recruit international students knowing that they are a guaranteed revenue generating source.

Fortunately, there are still some holdouts in the education market. Just yesterday I spoke with the director of the international admissions office of a local community college who was adamant about having the applications of potential foreign students screened before encouraging them to apply to his institution. He wanted to be sure that a) the institution the foreign applicant had attended in his/her home country was accredited; b) the academic documents were bona fide, and c) that the studies were equivalent to U.S. high school graduation and beyond with satisfactory and above average grades. At least he has the good sense to verify these students’ academic documents in advance. Let’s hope that more institutions see things his way.

In our quest to attract international students, enriching our campuses with diversity and multiculturalism, boosting revenues that help our local and regional economies, we can maintain the integrity of our academic institutions without compromising our standards. If a community college is capable of doing this and still remain an attractive destination for international students, other institutions can do it too.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI, Inc.
www.acei1.com

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International Programs:  An Economic Development Solution for Community Colleges 

October 13, 2011

West Virginia Northern Community College

These are challenging times for community college leaders. Many states across the country are facing unprecedented budget reductions in higher education systems. As community colleges receive fewer state dollars, these institutions must develop alternate funding sources. Trustees are faced with difficult decisions as cost pressures mount against the backdrop of state accountability measures, competition and serving greater numbers of challenged students. One solution to leading community colleges out of the current fiscal crisis is growing global education programs. 

Many community college trustees recognize that the definition of “community” has expanded to the national and international scale as result of pervasive technology change. Service area activity has impact beyond one’s locale and vice-versa. Community college students must compete and cooperate on a global scale. Thinking globally and acting locally is therefore a win-win for community college constituents. Creative leaders at leading two-year institutions are implementing models based on multinational partnerships and ways of linking global education to college completion and localization. 

In 2008-9, nearly 100,000 international students attended U.S community colleges. This represents a 62.5% increase from 2004-5. The economic impact of international students at these community colleges was more than $2 billion in 2007-8. However, global education is often among the first initiatives to be questioned or cut in difficult financial times when it can be the solution to funding, completion agenda and making global local. Globalization of higher education will continue to increase in the long term. Community colleges participating in internationalization benefit from the global movement of students and faculty, a point long recognized by four-year institutions.


Global education represents a vital component of community college services for the following reasons:

• Relevancy in an increasingly competitive higher education marketplace. Students are demanding international experiences and curriculum. Community colleges possess the institutional flexibility to provide global activities.

• Increased operating funds. International students are increasingly choosing U.S. community colleges before transferring to four-year institutions. Community colleges responding with internationally competitive educational programs increase student enrollments and positively impact operating budgets.

• Student workforce competitiveness. Resident community college students who do not have international experiences incur an employability penalty in the global labor pool. Global competency is valued by employers.

• Support of the college mission. Global education (student exchange/study abroad) addresses mission issues of completion, comprehensive international curriculum and community relevance.

It is high time community college leaders who want to stay ahead of the curve look into what futurist John Naisbitt, best-selling author of Megatrends, identified as two simultaneous but opposite trends in modern society where we rapidly embrace both the universal and the tribal, the global and the local in our daily lives.. We now not only “Think Globally, Act Locally,” but also “Think Locally, Act Globally”.

Zepur Solakian

Center for Global Advancement of Community Colleges (CGACC)

Executive Vice President, 

Global Communication & Public Relations

www.cgacc.org

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2+2: Bringing the $$$ value back to the U.S. Higher Education

The global middle class is growing as is the global demand for International Higher Education. It is projected that student mobility will grow 70% by the year 2025. International Students contributed approximately 18.78 billion to the US economy during the 2009-2010 academic years; it is this country’s fifth-largest service-sector export, according to the Department of Commerce. However as more countries get into global recruitment, U.S. is losing its global market shares due to the perception of high education costs, and the budget cuts that is effecting all institutions of higher Education and visa issues. U.S. global market share has fallen from 28% in 2001 to less than 20% in 2009.

What can U.S. Institutions do to remain globally competitive?

The answer lies in enhancing, articulating and marketing of 2+2 jointly by community colleges and four year institutions. The 2+2 process provides huge savings to students and all institutions of higher education. As the global middle class grows the 2+2 can bring affordability of a U.S. Degree to these families who would have otherwise looked at other countries. Properly presented this will create a new segment of the global market and a new pathway for U. S. Community Colleges and Universities. “The globalization of economies, the rise of China and India, advances in science and communications technology, acceleration of global mobility—and the fact that virtually every major health, environmental, and human security challenge Americans face can be solved only through international collaboration—will require our graduates to be far more knowledgeable about world regions, cultures, and global issues.” U.S. education must prepare students for a world where the opportunities for success require the ability to compete and cooperate on a global scale.

Zepur Solakian
Center for Global Advancement of Community Colleges (CGACC)
Executive Vice President, 
Global Communication & Public Relations
http://www.cgacc.org

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